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Reader’s Comment of the Day: I took my dying father out of the NHS doss house


In response to Jane Kelly: For the dying a hospice brings a kinder end than an NHS ward, sfin wrote:

My condolences…

…This article exactly mirrors my experience of my father’s final weeks with terminal cancer.

My mother called me with the awful news that his cancer had progressed and that he now only had two weeks to live. He was to be admitted to hospital that night. I drove down and arrived at the hospital at about 9:00pm. I was appalled at, what I can only describe as the doss house atmosphere of the ward. The men, some with dementia, were effing and blinding non stop (which upset my father, hugely, as my mother was present) and the nurse on duty thought it was hilarious. The last straw was when I went to visit the toilet and found excrement on the floor outside. I returned and told the nurse that I was discharging my father right away.

I ended up having quite a row with the nurse, who was threatening that he would not receive any pain relief at home (she got very annoyed when I told her that my father was not going to die in a doss house!). I took him home and two days later, managed to secure a bed in the local hospice.

Totally different. A room with a view, staff that were dedicated to and expert in palliative care, and every comfort provided (my father enjoyed a morning Baileys when they brought the booze trolley round! – and the smoking room was next door).

Above all, the attitude was that of allowing the patient to manage, his or her, own death. The ethos of the hospice was that death is a natural (and momentous – like birth or puberty) part of life and the patient, wherever possible, should have control over it.

I will always be very grateful to that place.


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